WDIDT: Couch Surfing #Write31Days

#Write31Days. 1 Topic, 31 Days, Lots of Thoughts.  This year I am reflecting on one small moment a day and why it mattered (or didn’t!). What did I do today?

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After a lovely morning at church and a relaxing lunch the little kids were off to bed and just my 7 year old and I were up.

A lot of time I use Sunday afternoons for “catch up”. Laundry, a project around the house or prepping for the work week ahead.

Today, I looked around and what really needed tending to was my daughter.

Lately, she and I have been talking about communication. Specifically, how we tell those that love us that we need a little bit more love. I wanted to remind her before she asked.

So, we got on our comfy clothes, cuddled upon the couch and turned on “Treehouse Masters”.

Besides being amazing to watch, it was fun to watch different families build different treehouses for different reasons.

That’s what I feel like her and I have been doing lately. I’ve been seeing her more for who she is, what kind of person she wants to be and why she wants be that.

She is a different girl with a different dream for different reasons. I want to love that girl.

As I sat there with my daughter I was really glad that this is how we were spending our day. Dreaming, cuddling and couch surfing.

How did you connect with someone today?

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WDIDT: Examples #Write31Days

#Write31Days. 1 Topic, 31 Days, Lots of Thoughts.  This year I am reflecting on one small moment a day and why it mattered (or didn’t!). What did I do today?

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Do you ever look around your house and think ‘Man, I wish some one would _______.’

Yeah, me too.

The last couple weeks have been really busy. Between work projects and my husband being home on vacation, seasons changing, babies teething – the thing that has seemed to get away from me is my house.

It wasn’t a disaster. We all do chores and my husband has been great about keeping up on laundry and the kitchen while he’s been home. But the little things…

Dustbunnies on the stairs

Piles next to the mailslot

School papers from the last 3 weeks

Clean towels stacked at the bottom of the stairs

Bins that needed returned to the basement

When I see these things in the midst of busy days I think ‘Man, I wish someone would just sweep the stairs’ or ‘Can’t someone just throw those papers away’.

And they can, and often they do. Our kids do fairly well at managing their rooms, homework and assigned chores. But what about all the unassigned things?

Well, today, I tackled those before I did anything else. And, instead of adding to my kids to-do list on their day off school, I chose example over effort.

Sometimes our kids need to see us doing the things we often ask them to do. Our kids need to see us serving them in practical and tangible ways – with a smile on our face. Maybe every once in awhile our kids need to be invited to join us in the tasks of life without the obligation of saying yes – knowing that their presence is still welcome if they say no.

Yes, I want my kids to be self-sufficient. Yes, I would have rather been doing other things. Yes, they are big enough to help.

Yet, I want them to know what it looks like to practically be a part of a family where EVERYONE participates in big and small tasks. I don’t just drive people around, pay bills and give orders. I also organize books on the shelf so you can see them because you love to read, go through school papers and put a really excellent mark on the fridge to celebrate you, fold the living room blankets and make sure to put your most favorite one on top.

It was lovely. The little kids played with the baby and the big kids sat in the living room and chatted with me for a bit. One decided to go play outside and the other offered to help. Eventually they both found themselves helping, without being asked or told.

Today was a day of example setting. Let us show others what it looks and feels like to live loved.

Where were you an example for someone today?

WDIDT: Taco Tuesday #Write31Days

#Write31Days. 1 Topic, 31 Days, Lots of Thoughts.  This year I am reflecting on one small moment a day and why it mattered (or didn’t!). What did I do today?

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I made quesadillas for dinner.

Today, I ran. Non-stop. I would have given the Energizer Bunny a run for his money. I did not intend for it to be a go go go kind of day it just happened that way.

And then dinner happened. And it was quesadillas (I even managed to make meat and non-meat options!) and tortilla chips and salsa for dinner.

I had hoped for more. I had hoped to do better. The day just got away from me.

After I nursed the baby, our daughter set the table and I put out the food. Everyone sat down and we prayed and we ate. I was tired. Worn out.

But dinner! Dinner, is like MAGIC at our house.

To have all our small people (Kids Age 9, 7, 4, 2, and 7 months) around 1 table, sharing 1 (very un-fancy) meal for almost 1 hour…that is MAGIC.

Over quesadillas I learned all about the kids author that came to school today and how shocked my son was that she was in her 70’s. I learned that our preschooler got to play in the gym (her favorite thing) but was tired ALL DAY because of it. Our toddler was trying to tell the other kids the best part of his day was school (except he doesn’t go to school) and then my 7 year old surprised us all by saying there wasn’t one part of her day she thought was hard or difficult to overcome.

We wiped out every last one of those quesadillas and we all laughed as our toddler asked for yet another huge spoonful of salsa for his chips.

So maybe it wasn’t the most delicious or nutritious meal we will have this week, but it might be one of the most memorable.

What did you have for dinner today? Who sat at your table?

Liking the “hard kids”

To say we have been in a season of hard kids would be an understatement. Some day I hope my kids look back and see how much we loved them even when it was hard.

Yet, just because I am able to love them does not mean I am able to like them.

Hear me clearly, I LOVE my kids. I have an unconditional love for these little humans that live in this house. I do hard things with them and for them and don’t look back.

But just because I sacrifice and do hard things, doesn’t mean I always like it or that my heart is always in the right place. Sometimes I am just doing the right thing to do the right thing. It is matter of the will, not a matter of the heart.

In this very hard season it has not been enough to just do the right thing. A bit of tenderness was starting to fade when I looked at my kids and I desperately wanted to get it back.

I’ve been re-reading some underlined quotes from Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts and it has started to call me back into hope…

“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
Ann Voskamp

So I started a new practice, a new discipline.

Every day I am writing down 1 thing I enjoyed about each child that day.

This sounds relatively simple. Until of course you have a hard child, a hard day, haven’t had enough sleep, enough nutrition or you just can’t get your heart in the right place.

These moments I am trying to recall, to remember, aren’t grand but they are starting to make my heart more tender towards my kids, especially the hard ones.

I’m appreciating moments like a child angrily going the their room but choosing not to slam the door. A child quitting a game with their sibling instead of making it into a physical altercation. A child choosing to join us at dinner even if they were grumpy the whole time.

It isn’t a glorious discipline but perhaps by seeing a little joy in the dark places all our hearts will be changed.

“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?”
Ann Voskamp

Thanksgiving: Motherhood

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Motherhood.

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You know those girls you grew up with. The ones that were just naturally maternal. When you planned your imaginary grown up life they had get married, have kids, be a mom on the top of their list.

Yeah, I was not that girl, ever.

It’s okay, you can laugh. For those of you that don’t know me I have 4 kids and am expecting…it is a *little* funny…

It was shocking that my sweet husband and I ever got married. We were in the car once when we were dating and he asked me about kids and I said bluntly “I don’t know if I ever want kids.” He didn’t say a word, turned up the music and gave me the silent treatment.

He married me anyway.

10 months after our wedding I stood, hot tears streaming down my face, positive pregnancy test in hand. He grinned from ear to ear, and really, he’s never stopped.

I didn’t choose motherhood, motherhood chose me. And, I haven’t always liked it.

In the beginning I wasn’t “good” at being a mom. It was so much emotional energy. I wanted to work and eat out and have a flexible schedule, it wasn’t exactly easy working and nursing and being home at a reasonable hour so everyone could rest.

As if this hard wasn’t enough BOOM, baby #2 was coming and at 7 months pregnant I lost my full time job. With my husband having just accepted a new full time job we decided I would “take some time off” and “stay home with the kids” and “enjoy the baby” for awhile.

I’ve never really gone back to my full time, live to work life, ever. And, I am so thankful I haven’t.

Somewhere after Baby #2 my heart began to change. I was the same me. I still wasn’t “good” at the emotional side of motherhood, I still dreamed about working full time, fine dining and just one weekend without a schedule but something was different.

I was still me but maybe version 2.0.

Version 2.0 of me looked the same, sounded the same, was just as driven and still full of energy. She was just a little more compassionate. A bit more emotionally brave. A lot more tired. And, a lot more of who she was meant to be.

I’m not a great cook (although my husband says I make great reservations!), I’m an okay homemaker (okay, not really, but I have friends that help me pretend to be) and I am still learning about the emotional side of motherhood (I can help my kids with robotics but can I teach them the meaning of unconditional love).

BUT, I have learned about love. And grace. And joy. And calling.

Love is so much more than a feeling and is intricately woven into our words and thoughts and actions and gifts.

Grace is so much more than forgiveness and embraces the impossible and unconditional sides of love.

Joy is more than fun but instead a gut punching side glance from a mischievous 3 year old that reminds you that she knows she’s loved.

Calling is irrevocable. The independent, strong-willed, leader, pursuer, teacher and dreamer in me were always meant to be. Motherhood has shown me that I am who I am and it is GOOD, regardless of what people see me as.

We all arrive at Motherhood differently, this is how I arrived here. The path has not been easy or gentle on my soul but now, my soul is easy and oh so gentle on others as they tread their own motherhood paths.

Today I am thankful for Motherhood.

Kids, Technology and Connection: Screens & Teens Review

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My youngest daughter recently turned three. She’s petite in stature and big in personality. Since she is the third, I’m not always as aware of what she knows.

For example, she asked to watch a show and I said yes, as I walked into the family room I realized she had managed to turn on the TV and Netflix  all on her own. I had no idea she could do all that!

I began thinking about my kids and technology. We limit TV time, video game time and movies. The kids don’t have electronics in their room and all of our devices are shared among us. But is it really enough just to limit their screen time? What about learning to use technology wisely? Engaging in their interests through technology? Exploring the world in new ways?

“Communicating is a strength of our wireless world. However, there’s no guarantee this communication will lead to connection. That’s the challenge for all of us.” – Dr. Kathy Koch, Screens and Teens

I don’t have teens (yet) so I wasn’t 100% sure this book was for me but I wanted to know, what can I do right now so my kids don’t get lost in the world of technology.

Truth and lies. What our kids believe about themselves and how they live that out in all their relationships matter. What was I doing to make sure my kids knew how to live out their relationships online?

Once I picked up Screens and Teens I couldn’t put it down! The book is formed around this thought of truth and lies. What lies do our kids believe about themsleves? How is technology reenforcing those lies? What truth do I want to guide them towards instead?

When I become the truth guide for my children my fears and the many unknowns of technology begin to fade away. I lean in to the positive communication our wireless world offers but ground myself and my relationship with my kids in connection first.

Screens and Teens has provided me with a foundation to build on and tools to begin the building. For parents with children of ANY age this book should be on your shelf with highlights, underlines and dog-eared pages. We need the wisdom that Dr. Kathy Koch shares here to raise the next generation of kids well.

Not convinced? Try these quotes on for size…

“Parents and teens are both affected by the influences of our screen-saturated lives, but young people experience the effects with ferocious intensity.” Screens and Teens, pg 14

“Children who are consistently handed phones or tablets by parents who want to keep them busy are being nurtured more by technology than by their own parents.” Screens and Teens, pg 36

“They’ve been raised with technology, their brains are wired to use and depend on these technological tools. It started young for them! … But I’ll say it again: No “thing” will ever meet young people’s legitimate need for security. They should find it in us, in others who are worthy of their trust, and in themselves when they have a healthy self-awareness and behave wisely. Most importantly, they should learn to place their security in God.” Screens and Teens, pg 46

Grab your copy NOW from any of these locations and join the revolution:

AmazonBarnes and Noble, CBD or Celebrate Kids!

*Disclaimer: I was able to read the pre-release copy of this book at no cost. However, all thoughts and opinions are soley mine.

Meet Katie…Snooze Buttons and Zombies: Navigating the Practice of Presence

Meet Katie…Wife, Mom, Teacher, Leader of Women, Friend. My most favorite thing about Katie is that she is funny! This girl can make me bust a gut on my worst day. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

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5 am. Snooze. Hit it again. Snooze for ten more. Ring at 5:10. Snooze. Ring at 5:20. Grr. I guess I’ll get up. This is how my morning goes, fighting the fight to get to the tub, trying not to trip over my zombie-like walk. I don’t really wake up for the next twenty minutes fully, not until I get the kids.

Contrast that to my two year-old son, Gowan – on a good day at least. Because when it’s a weekday, there’s hell to pay for getting that child up before 6 am. But on those rare weekend days in which he can sleep in and wake up when he wants to, I walk into his room, and he joyfully jumps on his bed, shouting,” Hi, Mommy! I’m awake!” Which is super cute, of course. But that got me to thinking…there’s a bit, or a huge difference, between his start to the morning and mine.

The problem for me, though, is that I’m not just hitting the snooze button at 5 am (and 5:10, 5:15, and 5:20). Throughout the day, I often feel like I’m still hitting that darn snooze button. On any given day, especially week days, I just run through the mundane like a drill sergeant, running from task to task. Or if I’m not feeling drill sergeant-y (I think I just invented a new word; go me!), I take on the personality of a robot, not even thinking about what I’m doing and just, you know, doing it. Just doing to do, because it has to, because it needs to.

And I’m assuming I know my audience here, so I probably don’t even need to expound upon the “it” I’m incessantly doing. But just to be assured that you’re in good company, here’s the “it:” get the kids fed, noses wiped, teeth brushed, coats on (is it summer yet?) diapers changed, lunches packed, diaper bag packed, eat breakfast, make sure I have work stuff in the car, drive to work, teach high school kids literature “stuff” all day, drive home from work, get dinner going, kids fed, sneak in some dinner myself, baths done, diapers changed, goodnight routines done.

Sound familiar? And after that’s done, then I can enjoy binge watching something on Netflix or Amazon, which is something I feel guilty about, but whatevs. That’s another post for another time. Because at the end of the day, I am EMPTY. I feel like I have NOTHING to give. And, you know, that’s OKAY. But I digress. Again, that’s yet another post for another time.

Back on subject here, I admit that I sometimes even rush the nighttime routines so that I can get to adult chill time sooner. But when I think about whether or not I was truly awake and alive for most of my day, especially the miniscule time I’m actually with my kids, I don’t think I was. I was asleep; I just kept hitting snooze. All day, I was the drill sergeant and the robot who just did everything, not stopping for a minute to say, “I’m awake!” Pause here: I’m not saying that it’s not ok to have days that are like this. Sometimes these days are necessary and just happen. But I am saying that I should make an intentional effort to make sure I’m truly awake for the moments in my day that I can enjoy the people with whom God graced me to spend my life.

These are the moments when my husband and I can laugh at something together, or when we can have a meaningful conversation, or when my son demonstrates his newest animal sound he can make, or when my daughter is taking her first steps (which has started recently! Prepare the mommy crazy meter). I don’t want to be so swamped in to-do lists and the demands of life that I miss these precious moments. And although I may not always miss these moments because of the crazy have-to’s of life, I don’t often stop to delight in them, to joy in them, and to realize how important, how fleeting, these are. I do often laugh at a joke with my husband, have a meaningful conversation, enjoy listening to Gowan “hee haw” like a donkey, and see Cora take those cautiously cute first steps. I am present for these, I see them, I’m there, but do I wonder in them? Am I truly awake? Am I truly alive, for that matter?

When I looked up the definition for the word “alive,” on Webster, I found this: “alert, active, animated.” Similarly, the definition for “awake,” is watchful and alert. So although I am, at least on the literal level, “awake,” I often am not alert, active, animated, and watchful, especially with the people who matter the most. And hear me, tired mamas, I’m not saying that every day, all the time, that we need to delight, to wonder, to revel in every single flipping moment of our day with husbands and children. No. Just. No. We’re not perfect; we don’t have super powers. What I am saying, though, is that we ARE children and daughters to a God who calls us to watchfulness and alertness to delight, to wonder, and to revel in certain moments of our lives that remind us of His ever-present watchfulness and alertness to his own children – you and me. Because God calls his followers to be children of light, being people who are visible to the world and people who are metaphorically awake. This is why Paul references Isaiah when he says, “Awake sleeper! Arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

When we “arise from the dead,” or refuse to hit the snooze button, and are awake, God promises us that Christ will shine on us. And I don’t know about you, but on every day of the week, I need a lot of Christ shining on me; I need a lot more of Him and a whole lot less of me so that I can be a vessel for his perfect purposes.

So, for me, my small way toward this declaration of “I’m awake,” is to hold off on the metaphorical snooze button for at least two moments a day that I can delight in my husband and my kiddos. And I’m hoping that the longer I intentionally engage in this practice of presentness, it will happily bleed over into more of my day – time at work, time with friends, time in the car – so that I can truly be “awake” for most of my day.

It’s small, but folks, us tired mamas know the trite saying: “it has to start somewhere.” We tired mamas also need to have grace on ourselves that if two moments are the most we can revel in, then two it is.

So next time I’ve become Katie the drill sergeant or Katie the Biggest Loser coach who keeps yelling at myself to keep doing the next thing, or Katie the robot who wipes human interaction and thought from my mind, I’ll chuck the proverbial snooze button out the window, and joyously declare, like my loveable toddler, that I, world, am truly awake!